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Dovi on pole for the first time since Sepang 2016 | MOTOGP | SPORT

No foregone conclusions at Brno. After Marc Marquez had finished working on his race pace, set fastest time in the fourth free practice, then displaced Jorge Lorenzo’s Ducati from the top of the time sheets in Q2, you might have thought the Repsol Honda rider was on target for pole position at his 100th MotoGP start.

That would be to reckon without Andrea Dovizioso, whose final run on the factory Ducati was smooth, unflustered, and blindingly fast. It gave him his first pole position since 2016.

And without Valentino Rossi, whose Movistar Yamaha was following on behind the red Ducati, and who just slipped in a mere five thousandths faster than Marquez to take second place. Rossi had done something similar to be fastest overall in the crucial first three practice sessions, proving again the adage that he is never to be ruled out.

Rossi, Czech MotoGP 2018

This left Lorenzo fourth to head row two from erstwhile front-row man Cal Crutchlow (LCR Castrol Honda) and Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Ducati), who had been left with just one bike after a blow-up right at the end of FP4.

Johann Zarco’s late bid faltered halfway round the lap, leaving the Monster Yamaha rider seventh, leading the third row from the two Ecstar Suzukis, with Andrea Iannone ahead of Alex Rins, the latter through from Q1.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) had been fastest on day one, but a gap of less than eight tenths to Dovi left him tenth, on row four. Alongside him, Reale Avintia Ducati rider Tito Rabat was ahead of an again off-form Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha), who had also come through from Q1.

Franco Morbidelly (EG-VDS Honda) was best of the rest, moving ahead of Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Ducati) at the end, as the Spaniard’s bid to regain a chance to got into Q2 was thwarted by a crash at the very end of Q1.

The sun continued to blaze down, but a weather forecast gave a 40 percent chance of rain hitting the track at race time tomorrow, introducing yet another element of doubt in a weekend with many of them.

Rossi, Dovizioso, Marquez, Czech MotoGP 2018


Moto2, last session of the day, suffered the worst from the continuing rise in track temperatures, and all the top 20 best laps were set on the second or third and rarely the fourth tour. From there on, it was a battle against major tyre drop and an increasingly slippery surface, which is likely to be a foretaste of tomorrow’s race.

Times were close, but the Rossi genes triumphed, as his half-brother Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) took his first pole position, and his third front-row start in a row.

More racing genes put Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex) second, with veteran Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Kalex) closing out the front row ahead of championship challenger Miguel Oliveira’s Red Bull KTM – equalling the Portuguese star’s best grid position of the year.

Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex) and points leader Pecco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex) complete row two; German GP winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) leads the third from Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Kalex) and Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer KTM), with Spanish GP winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) completing the top ten.

Fast rookie Joan Mir (EG-VDS Kalex) is 12th, but times are close, with the top 18 all within a second of pole.


In Moto3, a final flurry and some mistimed final runs shuffled long-time top qualifier Fabio Di Giannantonio down to fifth, the Del Conca rider still top Honda rider, as a clutch of KTMs nosed ahead.

Best of them was Prustel rider Jakub Kornfeil, who grabbed a margin of four tenths of a second in his run that started just before the final flag came out. He was following and then drafted past John McPhee (Green Power KTM), who was second, just over two hundredths ahead of Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital KTM).

Di Giannantonio mistimed his last run, and crossed the line to start his last flier less than a second after the flag had fallen. He was furthermore dropped to fifth by yet another KTM, Philipp Oettl’s Sudmetal bike.

Aron Canet (EG Honda) was sixth.

Championship leader Jorge Martin was absent, after breaking his arm yesterday. His closest challenger Marco Bezzecchi (Prustel KTM) qualified 14th.

By Michael Scott